How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’ve been injured in an accident, it may be beneficial for you to hire an attorney. Getting legal assistance is particularly helpful if you believe the other person is at fault and caused the accident happened in the first place.
The first item to consider when deciding whether or not you should seek a personal injury attorney is to judge the severity of the injuries sustained. For instance, if you experienced a fender-bender car accident without significant injuries, you may want to let the insurance companies hash out the recovery. However, if the accident resulted in multiple injuries, even fatalities, it is a good idea to hire an attorney who has experience in negotiating with insurance companies.
A personal injury lawyer will understand the severity your potential damages, and has experience communicating with insurance companies and the stalling tactics they sometimes use to avoid paying a claim. An attorney will be able to obtain the police report and witness statements, as well as talk directly to the insurance companies, making your life easier. This can be especially helpful if you were severely injured and need to focus on recovery from physical and emotional injuries.
Additionally, personal injury attorneys have the experience and knowledge of exactly how to build your case. They also have extensive experience in working with insurance companies who may try to take advantage of people and try to negotiate for the lowest settlement possible. A seasoned personal injury attorney will likely be able to get a much larger settlement from an insurance company than you would if you were acting without legal representation
How to Choose the Right Attorney
While there are plenty of personal injury attorneys who advertise on television, the attorney with the flashiest ad is not always the best choice. Instead, base your decision on identifying the attorney that will provide you with the best legal representation and give you the greatest chance for recovery.
What questions should you ask your potential attorney, and how should you go about hiring them? Should you use the attorney that your best friend hired to handle their divorce, or should you hire an attorney who specializes in personal injury?
There are certain methods you can use to determine which attorney is right for you:
- Talk to friends and family members to see which attorneys they have used and whether or not they are pleased with the results. Make sure that any attorneys they recommend specialize in the practice area that relates to your case to ensure you receive the best representation possible.
- Use an online lawyer referral service. This is a great way to take some of the searching off your plate by having local attorneys contact you. Often these referral services will be able to confirm whether the attorneys you are considering have valid law licenses and are in good standing with your state’s bar association. Additionally, you will be able to look at their relevant education and experience.
- Talk to business owners who regularly work with the type of attorneys you are considering hiring as they may be able to provide you with good referrals.
- The local law librarian may be able to help you find an attorney that is published in a trade journal or publication regarding a topic that may apply to your potential litigation.
- Your local or state chamber of commerce may also be able to assist you in finding an attorney who specializes in your type of litigation.
The Next Steps
Now that you have compiled a list of potential attorneys, the next step is to narrow it down to the most qualified options. There are several factors to take into consideration, including:
How much experience do they have working with insurance companies?
If you are looking for an attorney who has experience in personal injury, not only will they understand the ins and outs of filing a case and how to deal with tactics of the defense, they may have achieved a positive reputation in the insurance industry which will be beneficial to your case if you move forward and decide to hire them.
What is their billing practice?
Typically, a contingency fee basis is the standard for billing in a personal injury claim. This means you may pay for costs such as filing fees, but the attorney can only charge you their fees if they prevail, either in a settlement or a verdict in your favor.
Make sure you understand up front exactly what costs you must incur even if the verdict doesn’t go in your favor. Types of cases typically covered under the contingency fee basis are employment discrimination and personal injury. Usually, the percentage that the attorney will recover in a plaintiff’s verdict is between 30 and 40 percent. It may be possible for you to negotiate the percentage of the contingency fee, especially if your case may be worth a significant sum. However, often the best attorneys are not willing to negotiate their fees.
Where is the attorney located?
You need to make sure the attorney you are planning on hiring is licensed to practice in the state where you incurred the injury.
What type of reputation does the attorney have?
If the attorney you are thinking of hiring looks like they would be a good fit for your case, ask your friends and co-workers whether they have heard of them. Or better yet, if you have friends who are attorneys, ask if they have knowledge of them. Attorneys who participate with the local bar association often get to know one another pretty well and have a good idea of the reputations each has in their particular field.
What does a Google search reveal about their disciplinary record?
Most state bar associations will allow you to search online to see if the attorney has ever been disbarred or has had a complaint filed against them.
Does your trusted family attorney have any recommendations for personal injury attorneys?
Call your family attorney and ask if they can recommend anyone either in their firm or another firm that handles personal injury cases. If they have recommendations, give those firms a call and ask questions about the firm and the attorneys you are looking to hire.
It is important that you have total trust in the attorney who is providing the referral to you, as he or she may often receive a referral fee when referring a case. The referral fee may be anywhere between one quarter and one third of what the personal injury attorney is able to recover. Because the referral fee can be substantial, only trust referrals from an attorney that you trust.
Does the prospective attorney belong to any trial lawyers’ associations at the national, state or local levels?
When you are looking for attorneys online, be sure to identify whether or not they belong to any trial lawyers’ associations. The websites for these associations provide extensive bios of attorneys and often provide rankings for those with superior achievements.
Who are well-known attorneys in your newspapers online archives?
Search the online archives of your local newspaper to see if you can find a personal injury attorney that has gained notoriety for handling and winning personal injury cases.
How do you find the attorney who will be the best fit for you?
After receiving referrals and narrowing down your list based upon a variety of criteria, you have half a dozen or so attorneys that you are thinking of hiring. Your next step is to set up a meeting so that you can speak with the attorney, preferably in person. When speaking with the attorney, you will be able to determine if they have a personality that you can work with effectively. No matter how accomplished or highly recommended, if you don’t believe you can develop a good rapport with the attorney then the relationship will be strained.
Ask each prospective attorney how long they generally allow themselves to respond to your communications, whether it be through email or phone calls. Ask them what their personal philosophy is regarding responding to clients. It’s important to hire an attorney that recognizes the value in responding to client inquiries promptly. Additionally, you will want to ask how much the attorney will charge for each phone call or email response. If you feel that the costs are excessive or may likely become prohibitive, you may not want to hire the them.
When you decide to meet with the prospective attorneys, there is a list of questions that you will likely want to ask:
- Have you ever represented anyone in cases similar to mine? If so, how were the cases resolved?
- Do you have any idea how long it will take for the case to be resolved?
- Can you tell me what the statute of limitations will be for my case or for similar cases?
- Is it likely this case will go to trial, or do you think it will settle?
- Will you be the only attorney who is working on my case, or will there be other attorneys working on it?
- Is there any insurance on your law firm?
- Honestly, do you think I have a good case?
- As I am providing you with the names of potential defendant(s), can you tell me if you would have a conflict of interest if you represent me?
What You Should Bring to Meet With Your Attorney
After scheduling an appointment with the attorney that you feel will best represent you, what types of documents should you bring with you for the initial consultation?
- Any photographs of the site where the accident or injury occurred.
- Statements from witnesses present at the scene of the accident.
- Medical documents including records for any visits with physicians, hospital records and diagnostic tests.
Personal Injury Attorneys in New Orleans
Where should you look if you are interested in finding a New Orleans personal injury lawyer? Look no further than the Irpino, Avin & Hawkins Law Firm. Founded in 1999 by Anthony Irpino, our firm is dedicated to handling only property damage and personal injury cases. We have experience in complex class action lawsuits, and we focus on providing excellent service to our clients to make the legal process easier to understand.
Every attorney at Irpino, Avin & Hawkins is experienced in personal injury and property damage law, and many are licensed in a number of courts including Louisiana state courts, federal courts, and the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Irpino, Avin & Hawkins acts independently of any insurance company with the goal of providing the best legal representation for their clients. In the last 20 years, we have won over $350 million in claims.
If you need a personal injury attorney in New Orleans, Irpino, Avin & Hawkins Law Firm can help. Contact us today for your complimentary consultation.
I love the idea of setting up meetings with the different lawyers you have in mind. That way you will be able to get a feel for each of them. You can decide which one will be best for you and your case. If they are friendly, caring, have good communication skills, experienced, and professional, you probably found a good one!
We are glad you found that suggestion useful, Kendall! Those certainly sound like qualities of a great personal injury lawyer!